Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Vattavada: The Vegetable and Fruit Basket of Munnar

The traditional Strawberry wine of Vattavada, Kerala

There are many off beat trails around Munnar. One of them happen to be the quiet village called Vattavada that is located on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. Comprising of shola forests, Eucalyptus trees, 6,000 plus feet mountains and extremely fertile soil, this rain shadow area of the Western Ghats happens to be the vegetable and fruit basket of Munnar and may be for even many other places in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The famous vegetable farms of Vattavada

Now, you might be wondering why I am talking about vegetable farms and fruit orchards when I should be talking about surreal view points, gorgeous mountain lakes and dams and pristine nature, especially near a popular hill station such as Munnar. Well, for starters, Vattavada and nearabouts is the place to indulge in some exotic fruits and vegetables that are tough to find in our cities. And since these are growing here, you get to taste them as fresh as possible.

The famous garlic of Vattavada, Kerala

Exotic fruits and vegetables such as passion fruit, strawberry, tamarillo (tree tomato), canistel (egg fruit), blackberry, peach, plum, turkey berry and many others are grown here. And then there are regular vegetables such as potato, cabbage, bean, carrot, radish, garlic and other greens and herbs that can also be found here.

The famous garlic of Vattavada, Kerala

If you are a foodie, you can stay in this pristine environment and treat yourself to some of the freshest vegetables and fruits that you have tasted. You can either cook them your own way or ask a local chef to create local delicacies for you. And you can wash off this delicious farm meal with a glass of local passion fruit, strawberry or tree tomato juice or some locally made strawberry wine.

Yes! You heard me right! Strawberry wine is made the traditional way by the farmers of this region. They pick the fresh strawberries and squeeze their juice into an earthen pot kept just below the surface and next to the roots of the banana tree for a cooling effect. Then, this strawberry juice is allowed to ferment slowly and naturally. And with the passing of time, the alcohol content in the wine increases, but the freshness remains. So this strawberry wine tastes like juice but hits you like wine, a potent combination. This method of fermenting the strawberries can go for as long as two years, but I doubt the people let it stay for that long a duration as I believe the deliciousness trumps the fermenting time.

Wild Passion Fruit Flowers - Pazha Thottum, Vattavada, Kerala

So, while you are enjoying the gems of this vegetable and fruit basket region, you can also admire some of South India’s highest motorable roads that meander through Eucalyptus forests, tea estates and shola forests, a gorgeous rainforest in Pampadum Shola National Park, some surreal view points, some stunningly green treks and some traditional high altitude farm stays.

Scenic vegetable farms of Yellapatty, Kerala

One can either base themselves at Munnar and explore Vattavada as a day trip from Munnar or plan a totally cut off and off-beat holiday in the farms of Vattavada itself. Personally, I prefer the serenity, solitude, peace, lush greenery and pure atmosphere of Vattavada and would like to stay here any day. But, whatever your choice, this humble vegetable and fruit growing region of the mountains of Kerala packs a serious punch when it comes to an offbeat mountain holiday destination.

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